In November our Head Equine Nurse Marie Rippingale flew off out to The Gambia on an XL Equine trip to help out at The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT) in Sambel village. Here are some of her experiences.
“In August 2015 I volunteered to go on an XL Equine trip to the Gambia to work at GHDT and was delighted when I was contacted and told I had been accepted to go. I have been working as an equine nurse for nearly 13 years and have always wanted to go and work aboard and see how different the job is in another country. I was accompanied on my trip by vets Nancy Homewood from XL Equine practice Hook Norton and Jenny Croft from Lock Leven.”
“After flying into Banjul and staying overnight we made the four and a half hour journey to the village of Sambel to the GHDT centre. Day to day at the centre we would help the staff feed and change the waters for the patients and then go round and do any treatments required e.g. medication injections, bandage changes and put in IV catheters etc. The rest of the day would be spent going out on visits to farmers who had poorly animals. At the weekend the GHDT attends markets where farmers can take their poorly animals for treatment so we also spent two days there helping out. We would mainly be diagnosing and treating a disease known as Trypanosomiasis which is a disease where blood parasites are transmitted to the horse or donkey by the Tsetse fly. We would also be treating patients for ticks, saddle sores, wounds and general lameness.”
“During our second week there, we put together and delivered a training course to large animal assistants who had travelled from all over Gambia to attend. The large animal assistants are not vets, but have received training as veterinary assistants and are employed by the Gambian government to go out and advise farmers about their poorly animals. We had around 50 delegates and lectured under a tree with a flip chart and posters. We also ran practical sessions for the delegates where they got to practice taking a clinical examination, carrying out foot trimming and doing some dental examinations. We also demonstrated different bandaging techniques for them and taught them about correct wound care. The best part of this was the free range horses and donkeys that wondered in and out of our lectures! One of the most difficult things was teaching the delegates using only what is available to them in their country. This challenged us to think ‘outside of the box’ as they don’t have endless veterinary consumable supplies in The Gambia.”
“Overall it was the trip of a lifetime and I think I learnt as much from the staff and delegates at the GHDT as they learnt from me. I enjoyed going out and seeing how veterinary medicine is practised in another country. I hope that the knowledge we gave the delegates at the workshop will be used to improve welfare for horses and donkeys across the Gambia for years to come.”